If anyone is going to contest any of my posts for not being ‘spooky’ enough for Halloween, this is probably going to be the one. Small Soldiers isn’t really a horror movie, though it was directed by Joe Dante who also directed Gremlins which is considered to be a creature movie, if not a horror movie. Gremlins and Small Soldiers aren’t too dissimilar, both featuring non-human antagonists that run amok in a small American suburb, causing a fair amount of destruction. Though Small Soldiers doesn’t really have the cult following that Gremlins has, I still have very nostalgic feelings towards Small Soldiers as it as it was the first movie that I ever saw in a cinema. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was sprawled out on the floor of the living room, putting stickers in a Small Soldiers sticker album (even though I hadn’t seen the movie) and my Mum walked in and said “Tea’s going to be early today as Auntie Fay is taking you to the pictures”. (Just for clarity, ‘tea’ can be a term used to mean dinner in some parts of the UK and it doesn’t just mean the hot beverage, and ‘pictures’ is an archaic term for a cinema or movie theatre). Anyway, I loved the whole experience- buying sweets and fizzy drinks and going and sitting in a darkened room to watch a movie on a massive screen, what wasn’t to love? The only downside was that the villains of the movie, the Commando Elite terrified the shit out of me. I remember leaving the cinema and saying to my Auntie, “I’d like to get some Small Soldiers toys if they make them, but just the Gorgonites and not the Commandos.” I was pleasantly surprised to unwrap two Gorgonites on Christmas morning, the Gorgonite leader Archer and also Freakenstein. It is the latter that has made it onto this countdown today!
Being a Gorgonite, he isn’t a villain, so he isn’t particularly horrifying in that respect. But he does come from a movie that is a weird hybrid of sci-fi, action and light horror, and he looks like that. The whole of Small Soldiers is chock-full of little nods to old horror movies, and Freakenstein is the most obvious of these nods. In the movie, one of the Gorgonites gets destroyed by the Commando Elite, so the Gorgonites rebuild him using parts of an old radio. The resulting creature is Freakenstein, whose name is a obviously a play on Frankenstein.
I love Freakenstein. He’s such an awesome mix of monster and machinery that he instantly became one of my favourite action figures to play with. Hasbro gave him a few interesting features which I still appreciate to this day. The first feature is that two of his limbs can be swapped around or pulled off in battle. I don’t think Freakenstein was ever dismantled during the movie after he had been rebuilt, but it’s a really cool little feature that I really dig.
The second feature is that he has a little club that attaches to the radio part of him, and pushing down on a little button on his back causes the club to pivot up and down, so you can smash some Commandos over the head.
He also comes with a shield and a little megaphone thing that clips onto his radio. I’m not a radio expert so if someone wants to give me the correct terminology for that sticky out thing in the comments, go ahead.
So overall, though Freakenstein isn’t the most scary or typically ‘Halloween’ thing on this list, he is undoubtedly one of my favourite things to grace this countdown. He looks like grotesque blend of mechanical parts and flesh so I think that in itself is justification for him to be on this list.
I don’t think there’s really a whole lot more to say about this toy, as awesome as it is. The Small Soldiers toyline overall is a pretty good one, with some really interesting figures that feel chunky and well made. Freakenstein isn’t the most common to find these days, especially complete but if you find a loose, complete figure, then he’s definitely worth spending a few quid on, especially if you have as fond memories of Small Soldiers as I do.
So that’s another day over on the Halloween Countdown anyway. Come back for more tomorrow!